A weighty military history for students and scholars.




A massively detailed narrative of one of the greatest victories in U.S. military history.

Early in the morning of Jan. 8, 1815, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson was having coffee at a home in New Orleans when an artillery ball passed through the room. Grabbing his sword, Jackson looked to his staff and said “Come on—we shall have a warm day.” Over the next several hours, writes historian Davis (The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History, 2011, etc.), former director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, Jackson led his ragtag force to a smashing victory that both secured the West for the United States and set Old Hickory on the road to the presidency. The last major engagement of the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans served as a showcase for Jackson’s tenacity, skill, and leadership. Davis effectively depicts how Jackson overcame obstacles such as poor health, an ineffective Louisiana legislature, and a bitter feud with the governor to shrewdly build up the city’s defenses, a strategy that proved wise when the anticipated British assault ended in disaster. Throughout the narrative, the author sprinkles intriguing details: One of the few Americans to die at the battle was Thomas Jefferson’s nephew; Edward Pakenham, who led the British forces at New Orleans, was the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law; the supposed lethal effectiveness of the “Kentucky riflemen” was largely a myth, as Jackson’s artillery inflicted most of the damage. Unfortunately, the author also missteps. Repetitive phrases abound, and the “rebirth of America” referenced in the subtitle appears in an epilogue, which makes that part of the book feel tacked-on. Most fundamentally, the narrative is clearly aimed toward military enthusiasts and thus occasionally bogs down in descriptions of troop movements, engagements, and armaments. As is his wont, Davis delivers a highly descriptive and prodigiously researched book, but general readers should look elsewhere.

A weighty military history for students and scholars.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-58522-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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